High precision shovel GPS

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 1064, 2002

L.M. Gould

Syncrude Canada operates the largest oil sands crude oil production facility in the world and produces over 13% of Canada’s total oil requirements. To achieve this, Syncrude mines the oil sands in open pits, extracts the raw oil known as bitumen from the sand using water-based processes and upgrades it into sweet light crude oil by fluid coking, hydroprocessing, hydrotreating and reblending. The final product, Syncrude Sweet Blend (SSB), is sent by pipeline to three Edmonton area refineries and then to pipeline terminals which ship the SSB to refineries in Canada and the United States. As parts of the Mildred Lake base mine reached their economic life, they were replaced with new facilities at the Aurora Satellite mine. Aurora is situated on Oilsand Leases 10, 12 and 34, 35 km northeast of the Mildred Lake facility (Fig. 1). In 2000, the first hydrotransport low-energy extraction production train started up at Aurora. A second production train is scheduled for start-up in 2003. Open pit mining at Aurora occurs using two hydraulic shovels, two cable shovels, and trucks ranging from 320-ton to 380-ton payload capacities (Fig. 2). Once the oil sands is excavated, the trucks dump the ore into a crusher designed to break up the big lumps of oil sands and rock at peak rates of 11 000 t/hr. The ore is then transferred by conveyor to a surge pile and then to a mixing box which combines the oil sands with hot water. Following bitumen separation in the primary separation vessel, froth is delivered to Mildred Lake for processing via the intersite pipeline (Fig. 3). The goal of this paper is to illustrate how high precision shovel GPS (HPGPS) is being used at the Aurora mine to aid in mine planning. This can be accomplished by first describing the function of the mine planning department, describing the Aurora orebody, and finally explaining how the HPGPS system functions and how it is employed at Aurora. The short range mine planning department ensures a steady supply of ore is delivered to the plant at the desired grade in a sequenced and economical manner. This is done by creating a mine plan that consists of shovel dig locations that require the shovels to mine in a specified area at a specified elevation.
Keywords: Oil sands, High precision shovel GPS, Geology, Open pit.